Brown to enter Hall of Fame

Published 11:56pm Thursday, February 16, 2012

MARION — Judson College distinguished alumna, Mary Ward Brown, will be inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame on March 16 at the University of West Alabama.

Other inductees include the late George Washington Carver and blues artist and civil rights pioneer Willie Earl King.

“We are pleased to induct [these] into the Black Belt Hall of Fame,” said Valerie Burns, director of the Center for the Study of the Black Belt. “They have done amazing work to make life better for the citizens of the Black Belt, and we bestow this honor upon them to celebrate their achievements and all that is possible because of them.”

Brown’s stories have been published in many magazines, including McCall’s, Southern Living and The Atlantic. She has been featured in People and her work reviewed by The New York Times. Her first story collection, “Tongues of Flame, won an Alabama Authors Award and a Hemingway Foundation Award in 1987. She published a second collection, It Wasn’t All Dancing, in 2002 and Fanning the Spark: A Memoir in 2009.

Brown, who graduated from Judson in 1938, was an English major and edited the student newspaper. But she said she didn’t get serious about writing until her husband’s death in 1970.

Kirtley Brown was the public relations director for Auburn University when he and Mary Ward met.

Brown’s mother studied at Judson and named her son for Ann Kirtley, a Judson legend, Brown explained, and for whom the freshman dormitory is named.

“We met in April and married in June,” she said.

While living in Marion, Mary Brown took a creative writing class at the University of Alabama, a correspondence course from the University of North Carolina and discovered a genuine love for writing.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorialized, “Writing in a deceptively simple, unadorned style, Mary Ward Brown unfolds her stories with such natural clarity and formal perfection that one scarcely notices the writing at all–a hallmark of the finest storytellers from Chekhov to Eudora Welty, a tradition in which ‘Tongues of Flame’ as a rightful place.”

Judson honored Brown with an honorary doctorate in 1988 and the Outstanding Alumna Award in 1999.

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